BJP’s Forays in North Eastern States and its anti Minority Agenda
BY: Ram Puniyani
From last couple of decades one is coming across the pamphlets, leaflets and other material containing the propaganda that Christian missionaries are converting the people at rapid pace and the examples mostly cited have been those of the North Eastern states. This propaganda has been extensively used at pan India level, particularly before elections in most of the states. It is this propaganda which formed the base of hate against Christians and we witnessed the ghastly murder of Pastor Graham Stewart Stains, the horrific Kandhmal violence, and low intensity anti Christian violence and attacks on Churches in different parts of the country. So, how come BJP, the party flaunts the Ram Temple, Mother cow and Hindu nationalism could make its inroads into an area where Christianity is the dominant religion, where beef eating is part of the people’s dietary habit and where different tribes with diverse and clashing political interests articulate their aspirations by forming various groups which have been asking for separate state for their tribes.
While the situation in each state is different, there is a pattern of BJP strategy, which in a flexible manner, supplemented by massive resources, near perfect electoral machinery and the backing of its parent organization’s swayamsevaks is getting the cake in state after state. In Assam it focused mainly on the Bangladeshi immigrants, the Muslims swamping the state and threatening that Hindus will be reduced to a minority. It was clever enough to strike alliances even with separatist organizations. Most of the regional organizations in the area looks at Congress as the party which has not focused on the development work, and BJP while at one level abuses those differing with its ideology as ‘anti nationals’, has no compunctions at all in allying with those who have been talking of separate state or even secession. In Tripura leftist government despite its clean record has failed to fulfill the aspirations of tribal and OBCs. It also failed miserably in creating employment opportunities for the youth who gave ground to BJP create an illusion of development.
Here, BJP harped mainly on two major factors: One is the promise of development. As of now, its claims of development all over the country stand exposed as mere vote catching slogans, in North East they still could sell Modi as a development man. Manik Sarkar’s failure to implement the new pay commissions must have hurt the large numbers as they are still stuck at fourth pay commission while talk of seventh pay commission is in the air. In Tripura, they could also harp on ‘Hindus are Refugees: Muslim is infiltrators’ to influence the Bengali Hindu votes. In tribal area, RSS swayamsevaks working consistently by organizing religious functions, opening schools from a long time have succeeded in turning the tables, as Manik Sarkar Government failed to address the needs of Tribal’s in matters of opportunities. In matters of beef, BJP openly took a hypocritical line that their ban on cow slaughter and eating beef, which is being imposed in different parts of country; will not be enforced in North East. As such also one knows that like most of the issues raised by RSS-BJP, holy cow is a political tool for dividing the society and when the crunch comes they manipulate the issue as they have done in Kerala and Goa on the issue of beef and cow slaughter.
In a very loud manner, towering over Christian voters, Mr. Modi talked of rescuing 46 nurses in ISIS captivity in Iraq and Father Alex Premkumar from Taliban captivity. What can one say on these issues? Were they rescued as they were Indians or were they rescued because they belong to a particular religion? As is the wont with Modi type politics, they do take advantage of these incidents in a crass political manner. Despite the fact that their ideology regard Christians and Muslims as foreigners they do at the same time manipulate these identities for electoral gains. In Tripura the majority of Congress and TMC MLAS migrated to BJP as well as the electoral support shifted to BJP. What worked for BJP here, was the anti Bangladeshi sentiment along with the illusory promise of development.
In Meghalaya, the situation is different. Though Congress did emerge as the single largest party and logically is should have been given the chance to form the Government, the Hindu nationalist Governor, thought otherwise and the second largest party, in alliance with practically everybody including BJP are going to form the Government. Here the failure of BJP to win over electorate is writ large on the results, what is putting them in the camp of power, is the alliance with a regional party, which haven’t had an amicable relation with Congress. The role of BJP’s all round clout including money and muscle is the undercurrent of the story.
There are a lot of lessons for the Left to learn in Tripura. Issue of addressing problems of youth, Tribal and OBC are paramount. In addition the issue of BJP manipulating in all possible ways to come to power is something, which can be ignored at the risk of severe declines in the electoral power of the left and other parties. What is being labeled as Karat line, not allying with Congress, will surely decimate the Left in times to come, probably sooner than later, as this line underestimates the potential and the deeper agenda of BJP-RSS. It ignores the threat of powerful electoral machine built by BJP over a period of time and its capability to manipulate issues, like beef and conversion by Christian missionaries in different parts of the country by taking two opposite positions and getting away with it!
The emotive politics unleashed by BJP RSS is visible again in the form of toppling Lenin’s statue and carrying attacks on CPM workers. What is in store for future of the region if democratic forces don’t rise to the occasion is anybody’s guess!